Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, April 4, 2023


Ileene Anderson, (323) 490-0223,

Lawsuit Challenges California State Park Plan Allowing Off-Road Vehicles

Traffic Would Degrade Park, Threaten Mojave Desert Animals, Plants

SACRAMENTO— The Center for Biological Diversity sued the California State Department of Parks and Recreation and the Park and Recreation Commission today challenging the general plan revision for Red Rock Canyon State Park, which allows off-highway vehicles on two park roads and the Ricardo Campground.

Red Rock Canyon State Park, the largest park in the western Mojave Desert, is home to numerous rare and threatened plants and animals, stunning geological formations, world-class paleontology and irreplaceable cultural resources. It is surrounded by off-road vehicle areas, a state vehicular recreation area and U.S. Bureau of Land Management lands.

“It’s appalling that the state is willing to sacrifice such a biologically diverse gem when there are plenty of off-road vehicle areas surrounding the park,” said Ileene Anderson, a senior scientist at the Center. “Red Rock Canyon State Park is the crown jewel of conserved areas in the western Mojave Desert. How much desert land needs to be ruined for this type of recreation?”

Today’s lawsuit, filed in Sacramento County Superior Court, says the parks department failed to adequately disclose and analyze harms from off-road vehicles to two roads and the park’s only campground. It also failed to adequately describe the current environmental conditions in the park, including rare plants and animals, or disclose inconsistencies between the park’s general plan revision and the state vehicle code, as required by the California Environmental Quality Act.

The park is home to the federally and state threatened desert tortoise, the state threatened Mohave ground squirrel, and 12 rare plants. Five of these plants are next to two key roads, Red Rock Canyon Wash Road and Sierra View Road, and vulnerable to off-road vehicle traffic. The state parks department’s environmental review acknowledges that illegal off-road traffic is damaging the park’s rare plants, animals and cultural resources.

“It makes no sense to invite more off-road vehicles into this sensitive area without a commitment to monitor and limit these environmental harms,” said Anderson. “We should prioritize conservation of California’s irreplaceable landscapes, not plan for their destruction.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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